The Special Court for Sierra Leone has transferred to Rwanda eight prisoners it has convicted of various serious crimes committed during the West African nation’s decade-long civil war, the court said.
The prisoners, which include both rebel and pro-government militia fighters from the 1991-2002 war, will serve sentences ranging from 15 to 22 years in Rwanda as there is no prison in Sierra Leone that meets the standards required, it added.
The court wound up its proceedings in Sierra Leone this week when it rejected the appeals of three former rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) commanders. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, also accused of war crimes, will continue his trial at The Hague for security reasons.
“Amid tight security, the eight men were flown by helicopter from the Special Court compound to Lungi International Airport, where they boarded an UN-chartered plane for Kigali, Rwanda,” the court said in a statement.
The prisoners would be taken to Mpanga prison, under an agreement signed between the court and Rwanda earlier this year, it added.
Those transferred include Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao, the most senior surviving commanders of the RUF, whose uprising triggered the war that killed more than 50 000 people and was depicted in the 2006 film “Blood Diamond”.
Alex Tamba Brima, Ibrahim Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu, members of the RUF-allied Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), were also transferred.
Moinina Fofana and Allieu Kondewa, former leaders of the pro-government Civil Defence Forces (CDF) who were sentenced in 2008, were also on the place to Rwanda.
The court in Freetown is an international body with a staff including Sierra Leoneans and foreigners. It is the first mixed tribunal of its kind, with judges appointed by the United Nations and Sierra Leone.
Taylor, who was also embroiled in Liberia’s war, faces war crimes charges for his support of rebels in Sierra Leone. The intertwined wars in the two nations killed more than 250 000 people.